The penultimate newsletter for 2022 is out and it's packed! Check it out to see the best cartoons about Qatar (and our thoughts about some of the feedback we’ve received) and the COP27. We also have a report about the cartooning scene in Hungary and, of course, this month’s most popular cartoons.
It's been another turbulent week at Cartoon Movement, at least if we look at our social media channels. As you'd expect, we've published a lot of cartoons about the World Cup in Qatar in recent days; we've also received a ton of comments on these cartoons, most of them negative. The basic argument of all these comments is the same: we, as a Western organization, are hypocritical for calling out Qatar on human rights when our past and present is full of human rights violations.
Although we do not have an editorial policy that's written in stone, this might be a good time to share some of our thoughts about the cartoons we publish, and what we do with the feedback we receive. For us, there are two major take-aways this week:
1.Whataboutism isn't a valid argument
We already witnessed this issue earlier this year, with the many cartoons drawn about the invasion of Ukraine, and we are seeing the same argumentative trick employed again. Under any cartoon about Qatar, multiple comments will read something like this:
What about the killings in Palestine?
What about Europe's colonial past?
Most of the topics raised are valid, but the comments themselves aren't. Whataboutism is a cheap trick to divert attention away from the injustice the cartoon is dealing with. A cartoon can only deal with one subject at a time (mostly). It's only logical that we cartoonists are currently focused on Qatar and what's going on there. Over the past decade, Cartoon Movement has published cartoons on a wide array of issues, by a wide range of cartoonists from all over the world, including all of the ones raised in the social media comments. A simple site search or a look at are collections would prove this.
Not all arguments that point out hypocrisy are whataboutism. It can be very legitimate to point out a double standard, provided it doesn't try to condone the original injustice, or is only meant to draw attention away from said injustice.
2. Human rights are non-negotiable
Following the statement of the German team, we believe that human rights are not cultural or political, but fundamental. Some of the comments we've seen argue that guests should honor the rules set by Qatar (such the players not wearing the 'One Love' armband). We strongly disagree. Following this reasoning, no one could address the inhuman way Europe deals with migrants and refugees at any European event, or the many human rights abuses of the United States in decades of misguided foreign policy when the Olympics, World Cup or any other major event would take place there. It would severely limit the space of journalists, activists and cartoonists to raise awareness about subjects that need to be addressed, precisely when the world's focus is on the country in question.
Other comments argue that we should accept cultural differences. In our view, criminalizing same-sex relationships isn't a cultural difference. It's the oppression of part of the people living in Qatar. And if cartoons should do one thing, it is to fight against oppression.
Events like the World Cup put a country in the spotlight. Qatar has been put in a negative light. It might be true that past hosts of the World Cup should have been under more scrutiny as well, but that doesn't excuse Qatar or FIFA from their wrongdoings. And we'll continue to share cartoons that reflect that.
Cartoon Movement editor
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Cristiano Salgado (Cristo) is a Portuguese illustrator. After finishing his degree of graphic design and technologies, he started to work on animation movies and storyboards. Later on began to do cartoons and caricatures for various publications.
In 2021, the Guardian revealed that an estimated 6,500 migrant workers died in Qatar during the construction of the stadiums that will host the World Cup. Since then, cartoonists have commented on the World Cup with a steady stream of cartoons, mostly featuring footballs, skulls, stadiums and graveyards. As the World Cup is set to start on Sunday, we take this opportunity to share 10 of our favorites. If you'd like to see even more Qatar World Cup cartoons, you can visit our collection.
Spanish cartoonist KAP offers a suggestion to those planning to go to the World Cup:
A simple visual that doesn't need any explanation, by Dan Murphy:
We've seen many cartoons featuring skeletons beneath the football field, but this one by Maarten Wolterink, titled Revenge of the workers, takes the cake.
Another cartoon with workers buried beneath the football field, but this one by Luc Vernimmen manages to include a lot of detail; we especially like the FIFA official approvingly testing the grass:
Although we've seen many footballs transformed into skulls, this visual by Morhaf Youssef is quite unique:
Zach from the Philippines offers this powerful visual:
This cartoon by MATE from Argentina plays with another symbol that we see frequently in cartoons about this topic, the worker's helmet:
Jawad Morad manages to use the Iwo Jima pose trope in a very clever way:
We couldn't do a selection of cartoons about Qatar without including at least one skull, so here it is in a cartoon by Mir Suhail:
The final cartoon in our modest selection is by French cartoonist Bernard Bouton and shows the only score that really matters:
Berend Vonk is a Dutch editorial cartoonist and comic artist. He works for Dutch newspaper Trouw and several other publications.
By Tjeerd Royaards, Cartoon Movement editor
These past few days, I had the opportunity to spend some time getting to know the cartooning scene in Hungary. Cartoon Movement was in Budapest for Cartoons in Court, a research project into satire and the law. The research team consists of four academics from various universities around the world. Representing Cartoon Movement, I am the fifth member of the project as a so-called stakeholder, providing a link to actual practitioners of satire (cartoonists).
As Hungarian democracy slowly slides towards authoritarianism under the leadership of Victor Orbán, being a cartoonist in Hungary is increasingly challenging. I met with some cartoonists from the cartoonist association at the Association of Hungarian journalists. The fact that they are part of the journalist association is a good thing, but that's one of the few positives that I can say about political cartoons in Hungary (aside from the excellent cartoons and the cartoonists themselves, of course).
First of all, there is basically only one full-time cartoonist in the country. His name is Gábor Pápai and he is perhaps the most renowned cartoonist in Hungary, making a daily cartoon for Népszava, the last independent newspaper left. The rest is working part-time, unpaid, or is struggling to find any publication to run their work, as the vast majority of Hungarian media is under control of Orbán and therefore not very open to political satire.
One other gem of political satire can be found on the covers of economic magazine HVG, which has a decade-long tradition of making sharp satirical covers.
Gábor and his colleagues have gotten into trouble numerous times in the past two years and Gabor's newspaper is currently in the process of appealing to the European Court of Human Rights after the Hungarian Supreme Court ruled one of Gabor's cartoons to be insulting to Christians. I'm not going to go into the details of the court proceedings here, but you can head over to the website of Cartooning for Peace for a detailed explanation of both the cartoon and the court case. You can also watch this video, made when Gábor was named one of the recipients (alongside Ukrainian cartoonist Vladimir Kazanevsky) of the Kofi Annan Courage in Cartooning Award 2022:
Suffice it to say that the red lines are many. Religion is one, but other cartoonists have gotten in trouble for depicting Orbán as a painful boil on the body of Europe, or by drawing the Hungarian people as pigs. Although the latter two examples haven't lead to court cases, the artists and their publications have faced threats and harassment from government officials and people close to the regime.
His underlying condition caused dependence'
Cartoon by Gábor Pápai, for which his newspaper had to pay a fine and publish a formal apology.
I don’t have the slightest wish to have it, not even on my back but it stings and itches as if there was an ugly ulcer on my splendid body, Doctor.'
Cartoon by Weisz Béla
In this comic the Hungarian people are portrayed as pigs. In panel 1, they are arguing about politics; in panel 2, Orbán comes along asking if he can help rid hem of the 'migrant pest'. In panel 3, two pigs who support Orbán are trying to get the third pig in line; and finally, in panel 4, they all end up in the same place, the butcher shop.
Cartoon by Marabu
On November 8, we held an event at the Central European University, to present our ongoing research. I invited Gábor to come and speak about his work and the challenges he faces. Unfortunately, students couldn't attend in person, as the CEU is no longer allowed to teach students in Budapest, because Orbán took away the accreditation and all the student facilities have moved to Vienna.
Gábor was pessimistic about the future of press freedom in his country, which in his opinion will go the same route as Russia, restricting free speech further and further. In the face of this growing oppression, Gábor has continued to create sharp cartoons, trying to provoke the authorities. However, the new strategy of the government has veered away from stimulating public outrage and court cases, opting for silence and indifference instead. This indifference, along with the insidious and unrelenting takeover of Hungarian media, might well prove successful.
Stay tuned for a recording of the event and a more in-depth interview with Gábor Pápai in the near future.
We are delighted to welcome Khiri Shrife, a cartoonist from Libya. He works for the Al-Wasat Foundation for Independent Journalism and is president of the Libyan Caricatures and Comics Association.
The COP27 starts in Egypt on November 6. Another get-together of world leaders to discuss the need to stop talking and start acting. Our cartoonists have been following previous COPs with some interest, so we're sharing some of these cartoons, going back to 2015.
This first cartoon by Italian cartoonist Enrico Bertuccioli does a good job conveying the general message throughout all the cartoons that deal with the various climate summits. Although there is a lot of talk about the need to take immediate action, it seems like the participants are operating on a different sort of clock...
COP21 - 2015 - Paris
Niels Bo Bojesen from Denmark already pointed out the need for urgent action back in 2015.
COP22 - 2016 - Marrakech
A year later in Morocco, Abdelghani Dahdouh pointed out that the industrial plundering of the earth appeared to continue unabated.
COP23 - 2017 - Bonn
A year later, another dire warning, this one by Cuban cartoonist Ramses Morales Izquierdo
COP24 - 2018 - Katowice
Austrian cartoonist Marian Kamensky show the delegations leaving COP24, held in Poland. Not much has been achieved, in his opinion.
COP25 - 2019 - Madrid
Cuban cartoonist Falc0 suggests a new logo.
COP26 - 2021 - Glasgow
Gatis Sluka from Latvia points out the difference between words and actions.
COP 27 - 2022 - Sharm El-Sheikh
Dutch cartoonist Tjeerd Royaards shows where we are in the process of rescuing the earth.
Were ending this overview with two cartoons by Anne Derenne and SWAHA, pointing out the fundamental problem of all the COPs and predicting the future respectively. Check out even more climate cartoons here.